Licenced Builder (and My Home Improvements’ Managing Director) Greg Catton is an expert in metal roof restoration and tells you everything you need to know about painting metal roofs.
Metal Roof before painting.
Same metal roof after painting
Like everything in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way to paint a metal roof… and I’ve seen some real shockers over the years.
Sometimes by blokes who do it for a crust and who should know better.
Often it comes down to a distinct lack of preparation – rushing things, and not paying due care and attention – but there are other factors such as using the using wrong type of paint, which just makes me scratch my head.
With this in mind, I thought I’d put a few words together about the RIGHT way to paint a metal roof.
And before you ask the obvious question:
Is painting a metal roof different to painting a tile roof?
And the even more obvious question: Can you paint a metal roof?
…the answers are “Yes, it is” and “Yes, you can!”
When to paint a metal roof.
Unlike tile roofs, metal roofs (also called tin roofs, iron roofs and of course Colorbond roofs, but let’s stick with metal for now) are renowned for their strength and durability.
In fact, they can last for decades with hardly any maintenance, and rarely any repair needed.
However, even though they remain structurally strong, the elements – particularly the harsh Aussie sun – can play havoc with their general appearance.
Paint combined with the onset of rust and corrosion will mean that it’s time to repaint your roof.
When that time comes, there are three ways you can go:
- Paint your metal roof yourself
- Get a cowboy to paint it for $1600 (bearing in mind you get what you pay for), or
- Have it professionally painted by My Home Improvements
Painting your metal roof yourself is not recommended.
It is time consuming, dangerous and won’t save you nearly as much money as you think… unless you buy a really cheap roof paint, which will look good for a year or two or three, then well, who knows? You may have to paint it again.
(Incidentally, if you do decide to paint your metal roof yourself make sure you wear a respirator or dust mask for protection, and a harness for safety. And dare I say it… avoid the power line at all costs!)
Getting the $1600 “special” also sounds good, until you ask yourself WHY is it so cheap? How do you know they’ll prepare and paint your metal roof correctly, or even use the right paint?
Are you going to get up there and supervise? And would you know what you were looking out for if you did?
I’ve seen these cowboys use a cheap high sheen, which would be bad enough on a tile roof, but is totally inappropriate for metal roofs – it shows all the imperfections, plus when it gets hot, it WILL bubble and peel.
Professional metal roof painting
So, you’ve opted to go with My Home Improvements? Great choice!
Here’s how we go about painting a metal roof the way it should be painted.
Preparation is paramount, so go to great lengths to prep the metal roof properly before we even grab a spray gun and paint roller.
First of all, we carefully remove all flaking paint, dust, dirt and debris using a high pressure cleaner on the entire roof surface, then use a wire brush and sandpaper for finicky areas with heavy surface rust.
If there is any surface rust, we treat it with a special rust inhibitor that doesn’t need to be washed away.
We then scan your entire roof looking for and replacing rusty or damaged screws.
After all, there’s no point in having a schmick new paint job on your metal roof if your metal roof ends up in your neighbour’s back yard.
Finally we scour the roof to leave a slightly abraded, textured finish, as this helps your new paint bond with the metal roof.
Once it’s prepped, we add a primer.
But hang on, Greg, I hear you say…shouldn’t you use a sealer first?
Nope. Sealers aren’t necessary when you paint metal roofs – you only need them on tile roofs.
Having said that, the primers we use have a built-in anti-corrosive component, so they’ll look good for a very, very long time.
We then wait for the primer to dry, especially in humid weather, as it needs time to cure properly. This is something the cowboys seldom worry about.
After that, we then apply two top coats, then climb on down and join you in admiring our handiwork.
Traps for young players when you paint metal roofs.
“We had our metal roof painted really cheaply, and it looks sensational!”
That’s what everyone who takes advantage of the “we’re in your area” $1600 Special says…at first.
The thing to remember is that even bad paint jobs look great when they’re first done, no doubt compared to what the metal roof looked like BEFORE it was painted.
But as my old mate Benjamin Franklin said when someone did a shoddy job painting HIS metal roof:
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”
Here are some of the things unscrupulous painters do to cut their costs:
- Doing a half-hearted prep
- Painting right over rust and rusty/missing screws (by the time it’s an issue, they’ll be long gone)
- Rushing things, not waiting for each coat to dry
- Skipping a coat or two
- Watering down paint, using a 70/30 mixture to ‘stretch it out’.
- Using cheap paint that is low in resin solids.
To qualify this last point, and without getting too technical, good quality roof paint (like Nutech, the brand we use) contains more resin solids, which hold the colour or pigments in paint.
Other paint brands use fillers, binders and chalks and claim that these “solids” (not resin solids) will stand up to damaging UV.
WRONG!!! In fact, quite misleading.
This will only cause separation of liquids and solids if the paint is not mixed thoroughly, or is left standing for two long.
If the tradie doesn’t mix the paint on site it will only perform for between 50-75% of the projected lifespan.
As well as that, some manufacturers will advise you to spray on at almost double the thickness to achieve a “High Build” coating.
The trouble with that is UV strength doesn’t come from the thickness of the paint as much as the level of resin solids.
I hope this has been helpful.
If you’d like to talk further about the right way to paint a metal roof, or if you require some more information and advice – or a Free Quote – just call 3808 0700 and speak to a My Home Improvements team member, or simply click here to contact us.